Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid are among many clubs set to battle for teenage star Florian Wirtz but recent events at Barcelona mean the Catalans are now in the equation.
The 18-year-old has been turning heads with his displays for Bayer Leverkusen. Many clubs have been linked, with the Blues and Real thought to be keen. But the likes of United, Manchester City and Arsenal are also said to be monitoring his situation.
Having come up through the FC Koln youth ranks, the attacking midfielder joined Leverkusen in January 2020. He made his senior debut in May of that year, and enjoyed seven outings during the rest of the campaign, scoring twice.
The Germany international enjoyed his breakthrough year last term, making 25 starts among 29 Bundesliga outings. He notched five league goals for Die Werkself and has carried that form into 2021-2022.
The talented youngster has found the net four times from nine appearances. But he has also assisted six goals and the big guns have already started to take note.
El Nacional (via ESPN) report that Chelsea and Real have shown the most interest but face competition from Barca. The Nou Camp giants may be struggling financially but the arrival of Xavi could be their trump card.
Wirtz is said to be a big fan of the Spanish tactician, who recently replaced Ronald Koeman in the dugout. It is unlikely Barca would have the funds required in either of the next two transfer windows.
And the report suggests they may have to wait until 2023 to make their move. It is open to debate as to whether the starlet will still be at Leverkusen by then, with the calibre of clubs waiting to pounce.
Chelsea on pole to secure Wirtz deal
Chelsea have a history of signing young German players. Kai Havertz arrived in September last year while they spent big on Timo Werner in June 2020.
Wirtz could be the next man to tread that path and he would be a player to excite the Stamford Bridge faithful. Germany coach Hansi Flick has placed his faith in the youngster, calling him up to the national side in September.
The Pulheim-born star has now earned four caps for his country and seemingly has the world at his feet. It is inevitable that he will move to a bigger club sooner rather than later.
The Blues are thought to be following him ‘closest of all his suitors’. But there is plenty of work to be done before he is seen in west London.